U.S. retail sales fell in September for the first time in seven months. According to a report from the Commerce Department, retail sales fell 0.3 percent last month. Economists had forecast retail sales would climb 0.3 percent in September. The decline was the first since February. Retail sales gained 0.6 percent in August. Compared with September of last year, retail sales increased 4.1 percent.
Households reduced spending at general merchandise stores, grocery stores and sporting goods stores. Sales also dropped on building materials, online purchases, and automobiles. Clothing stores, restaurants and health care stores all saw increases.
Auto sales fell 0.9 percent in September, the most in eight months. Auto sales had posted a solid 1.9 percent increase in August. Excluding car sales, auto-sector retail sales fell by 0.1 percent in September. Receipts at service stations fell 0.7 percent, with that decrease attributed to cheaper gasoline.
The government’s report said that sales at general merchandise stores fell 0.3 percent, while receipts at clothing stores rose by 1.3 percent. Furniture sales rose 0.6 percent. Sales at restaurants and bars increased by 0.2 percent.
The report showed that consumption rose at a 4.6 percent annualized rate in the second quarter. That was the highest in the past 18 months. Consumption comprises about 66 percent of the U.S. GDP activity. The overall economy grew at a 2 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter. That was expected to slow in the July-September quarter.